Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Acoustic tweezers moves cells in three dimensions, builds structures


Acoustic tweezers that can move single cells in three dimensions using surface acoustic waves without touching, deforming or labeling the cells are possible, according to a team of engineers.

"In this application we use surface acoustic waves to create nodes where cells or microparticles are trapped," said Tony Jun Huang, professor and The Huck Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering Science and Mechanics. "We can then move the cell or particle in three dimensions to create structures in two or three dimensions."

Numerical simulation results mapping the acoustic field around a particle that shows the physical operating principle for the 3-D acoustic tweezers. The 3-D trapping node in the microfluidic chamber is created by two superimposed, orthogonal, standing surface acoustic waves and the induced acoustic streaming.

Credit: Tony Jun Huang, Penn State

The trapping nodes are formed by two sets of surface-acoustic-wave generators. When the sound waves from opposite sides meet, they create pressure that catches and positions the particle or cell. Moving the location where the sound waves meet moves the location of the cell or particle. These standing-wave shifts manipulate the tiny objects in two dimensions. The amplitude of the acoustic vibrations controls the movement in the third dimension. The researchers report their work in today's (Jan. 25) issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The results presented in this paper provide a unique pathway to manipulate biological cells, accurately and in three dimensions, without the need for any invasive contact, tagging, or biochemical labeling," said Subra Suresh, president, Carnegie Mellon University and part of the research team. "This approach could lead to new possibilities for research and applications in such areas as regenerative medicine, neuroscience, tissue engineering, biomanufacturing, and cancer metastasis."

The research team not only created a 3-D tweezers, but they also modeled bioprinting with this device and used the device to pick up, translate and print single cells and cell assemblies, creating 2-D and 3-D structures in a precise, noninvasive manner. They demonstrated this ability by capturing a single suspended mouse fibroblast and moving it to a targeted location in the microfluidic chamber.

Bioprinting to recreate biological materials must include a way to preserve cell-to-cell communications and cell-environment interactions. While the device is not a 3-D printer in the conventional sense, it can move specific cells and particles to specified places and attach them wherever they belong in a functional way.

"Adding a third dimension for precisely manipulating single cells for bioprinting further advances acoustic tweezers technology," said Ming Dao, director, Nanomechanics Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The accompanying modeling provides solutions for cell manipulation, enabling validation of the method as well as possible system optimization."

The third dimension achieved with this device relies on acoustic streaming, a type of fluidic motion induced by a standing acoustic wave. By manipulating the acoustic wave, the researchers could position the trapped particle or cell wherever they wanted it within the vertical confines of the enclosed fluid.

"3-D acoustic tweezers can pattern cells with control over the number of cells, cell spacing and the confined geometry, which may offer a unique way to print neuron cells to create artificial neural networks for neuron science applications or regenerative neuron medicine," said Huang.

The current device can place a cell or particle with 1 micrometer accuracy horizontally and with 2 micrometer accuracy vertically. The researchers moved a 10 micrometer particle at an average speed of about 2.5 micrometers per second and could place cells in several seconds to a few minutes depending on the distance.

Because the acoustic wavelength and input power are instantaneously tunable during experiments, the placement accuracy is only limited by the resolution of the device setup, according to the researchers.


Also working on this project were Feng Guo, Peng Li and James Lata, postdoctoral Fellows in engineering science and mechanics; Zhangming Mao and Yuchao Chen, graduate students in engineering science and mechanics; Zhiwei Xie, former postdoctoral Fellow in biomedical engineering; and Jian Yang, professor of biomedical engineering, all at Penn State.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation suported this work.

Media Contact

A'ndrea Elyse Messer


A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Solid progress in carbon capture
27.10.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht Greater Range and Longer Lifetime
26.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>